Shed-antler hunters and other recreationists planning to visit a Montana Wildlife Management Area are reminded that while many popular WMAs open at noon on May 15, several do not open until June 1. It is illegal to enter a state WMA prior to its formal opening day.
Buck deer and bull elk and moose grow antlers each year, some to magnificent size, which drop off to regrow each spring. Hunting for and collecting these "shed" antlers in spring has become a popular activity on more than 30 WMAs managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Many of Montana's WMAs provide security to wintering wildlife during the most vulnerable time of the year. These WMAs are closed to public use following the end of the hunting season and do not reopen until mid-May or June 1.
In the past, some WMAs have opened at midnight, but current regulations require all WMAs statewide with winter closures to reopen at noon to help with consistency and public safety.
In addition to WMAs, any other public land that offers good wintering range for wildlife offers shed antler hunting opportunities. FWP wildlife managers say hunters who search for antlers where they plan to hunt in the fall can gather valuable information about the age and size of the animals in the area and their movement patterns. If that location is on private land, remember to get landowner permission prior to making an antler hunting trip.
Springtime searching for shed antlers, hiking, and other such activities are not allowed through the Block Management Program, but instead require permission from the private landowner. Block Management only covers public hunting and typically is only in effect during fall hunting seasons.